Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Reading Envy Podcast 112: Reset Button

Eleanor Thoele has participated in the two Reading Envy Readalongs, but this is her first time as a featured guest. We talk about the comfort of cozy mysteries, the challenge of graphic novels, understanding Japanese culture, and more.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 112: Reset Button

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

I am scheduling guests for the second half of 2018! If you are interested in appearing on the podcast: FAQ

Books Discussed:


Japanese Destroyer Captain by Captain Tameichi Hara
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family & Place by Terry Tempest Williams
The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
Winter by Ali Smith

Other Mentions: 

Rizzoli & Isles (tv series)
Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr
USS Juneau
USS The Sullivans
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams
Mary Higgins Clark Award
The Wife by Alafair Burke
The Boat People by Sharon Bala
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Related Episodes:

Episode 014 - Flannery O'Connor With Zombies with guest Jason Roland
Episode 079 - Deliberately Silenced and Preferably Unheard with Rima Abunasser
Episode 088 - Author Head Space with Sara Moore 
Episode 090 - Reading Envy Readalong: East of Eden with Ellie and Jeff
Episode 094 - House Arrest with Libby Young
Episode 099 - Readalong: The Secret History 

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Ellie at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Ellie is @elliedottie on Litsy
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine

Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine by Edward Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Immigrants: we get the job done." (That's a Hamilton reference, y'all.)

Edward Lee veers off in a slightly new direction in this travel memoir that also includes recipes (I really want people to stop calling this a cookbook, it isn't.) He visits places in America that have unique food cultures because of immigrants living there, from Moroccan (and smen, an intriguing fermented butter) in Hartford, Connecticut to a Lebanese community in Mississippi. He even travels through West Virginia with Ronni Lundy, a section I really enjoyed because I have and love her cookbook. He basically invites himself along!

Edward Lee is curious and respectful, and sometimes people don't open up to him right away. His willingness to wait, to keep trying, and keep eating, yields interesting stories (but does not always yield the recipe secrets.) At the end of each section, he includes a few recipes. Sometimes they are pretty close to the food he consumed in the place, and other times it is his spin on it. All of the recipes are in the spirit of what he ate and how it got there, with a little extra bourbon from time to time (once a Kentucky boy....)

I have to admit that I don't expect chefs to be the best writers, but the craft of writing in this book blew me away.
"Paula sits with us for just a few minutes. Her parents still come in to make the kibbeh, she says. No one else can make it right. I can feel the restlessness in her bones that only another chef can truly understand."
He moves between a narrative and reflective voice, and offers a focus and respect to food creators that has been long overdue.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me early access through NetGalley. The book doesn't come out until April 17, but I couldn't wait to read it.

View all my reviews

Review: Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance: Poems

Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance: Poems Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance: Poems by Fady Joudah
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I just returned home from AWP in Tampa. While there, I attended a reading of Milkweed poets, including Fady Joudah. I returned to my hotel room and discovered that one of the galleys of poetry I had for books coming out this next week was the same guy! Cool.

I was surprised to find out that Joudah is a doctor of internal medicine, and also a poet. There are moments in these poems where it is almost as if you see through his doctor's perspective, with skin abrasions and cadavers, disease and corpses. The body, but from a distance. Other moments, the body is close and intimate, or something that can cause violence or pain.

There is also a section of poems written in collaboration with Golan Haji, a Syrian Kurdish poet, whose book of poems I just happened to buy from AWP before going to this reading. What are the odds?

My favorites include:

"The Magic of Apricot" (rather than the madeleine as memory....)

"Epithalamion" (which means a poem celebrating a marriage, and it is lovely)

"The Sole Witness to My Despair, Declare"

"Traditional Anger (in the Sonora)"

"Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance"

I'm not a huge fan of the paragraph poem, but enjoyed "Palestine, Texas" when he read it to the group.

View all my reviews

Review: Another City: Poems

Another City: Poems Another City: Poems by David Keplinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just returned home from AWP in Tampa. While there, I attended a reading of Milkweed poets, including David Keplinger. I returned to my hotel room and discovered that one of the galleys of poetry I had for books coming out this next week was the same guy! Cool.

My main impression of Keplinger's poems is best described as dealing with artifacts. He seems to use objects to discuss relationships, between people, between a person and their life, between people those who leave and those who stay. They are quiet but some pack a punch, especially those that seem to be talking about loss.

My favorites include:

"The Sibilant," about the different paths a relationship can go

"A Poetry Shop in Heraklion"


View all my reviews

Review: The Hunger

The Hunger The Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any Oregon child studied the Oregon Trail as part of Oregon history, in 4th grade and 8th grade. In 4th grade we played the Oregon Trail computer game in the Intel-provided computer lab, and in 8th grade we did more of a LARP version of the game. My group named itself the Dumber Party, in tribute to the Donner Party. I was Mary Dumber, the only female of the group.

Do I even have to say that we were obsessed with the Donner Party?

Surviving the trek across the country in covered wagons forced pioneers to face an endless number of difficult situations. Start too early and you might encounter snow or run out of food. You might encounter natives, die of dysentery, or drown crossing a river.

So what if there was even more danger hiding in the woods? What if one of your party is rumored to be a witch, and there are creatures in the woods who aren't quite human, said to devour previous parties attempting to cross? This novel explores these horrors and I really enjoyed it. It's the perfect creepy twist to an already death-defying adventure.

Thanks to the publisher for granting me access through Edelweiss. The Hunger came out on March 6, 2018.

View all my reviews

Review: Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times

Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times by Flor Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a must-read for me, because of my obsession with cults and people who leave them! The author grew up in the infamous Children of God cult that started in the 60s, capitalizing on the free love idea and pulling people in around the world. Adherents gave up their possessions and reproduced while awaiting the apocalypse, which was scheduled to happen in 1993. Flor and her twin turned 12 that year, and that was also when she started to suspect that maybe not everything she'd been told was completely true.

This is more of a 3.5 stars read. The story is compelling, of course, but it lacks the perspective I wish I had. The author is an adult now, and I wish she'd done more to fill in the gaps of what she didn't know as a child. Much of the memoir still only contains what happened directly to her. The writing also isn't stellar. It isn't bad, exactly, but that isn't the strength of the book. Still, considering that she actually was practically uneducated as a child, maybe this is asking too much.

I uncomfortably discovered that this group is still around, now known as The Family, still asking people for donations and recruiting people to something thinly veiled as Christian beliefs. Buyer beware!

Thanks to the publisher for approving my request to read this ahead of time through Edelweiss. It comes out March 13, 2018.

View all my reviews

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Books Read February 2018: 25-47

Pictured: 5-star reads for February

25. Origin by Dan Brown *** (audiobook review copy; my review)
26. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee **** (personal copy; my review)
27. The Bookworm by Mitch Silver *** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
28. Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday ** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
29. The Private Lives of Trees by Alejandro Zambra **** (library book; my review)
30. Winter by Ali Smith **** (personal copy; my review)
31. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson **** (audiobook review copy; my review)
32. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones **** (eARC from NetGalley and personal copy; my review)
33. Love by Hanne Orstavik *** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
34. Dead People Suck by Laurie Kilmartin **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
35. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute **** (personal copy; my review)
36. The Kiss: Intimacies from Writers edited by Brian Turner *** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
37. The Rope by Nevada Barr **** (postal book swap; my review)
38. White Houses by Amy Bloom *** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
39. The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee ***** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
40. Virgin by Analicia Sotelo ***** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
41. What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
42. Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
43. The Answers by Catherine Lacey *** (personal copy; my review)
44. The Stones of Summer by Dow Mossman ** (personal copy; my review)
45. The Change Room by Karen Connelly **** (interlibrary loan; my review)
46. Algeria is Beautiful like America by Olivia Burton **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
47. Wonderland: Poems by Matthew Dickman **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)

Books read: 23

Male authors: 9
Female authors: 13
Other/multiple authors: 1

PoC: 5

Audio: 3
eBook: 12
Print: 8

Library copy: 2
Personal copy: 7
Review copy: 14

Crime/thriller: 3
Poetry: 3
Biography/memoir: 1
Essays: 2
Short stories: 2
Literary fiction: 12

Book swap: 1
Book club: 1
Canada-Alaska 2018: 1